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Vayikra makes it clear that there are two types of offerings. The first type of offering is freewill. These offerings are designed to enhance an individual's relationship with HaShem. Therefore, the freewill offering is symbolic of voluntarily commitment. The second type of offering is mandatory. The mandatory offering is for the rectification of sin. Mandatory offerings require an individual to acknowledge he or she is responsible for transgression against the commandments of HaShem. Freewill offerings and mandatory offerings serve as a reminder that living by the Torah is both a decision and a responsibility.
The complete burnt offering is a freewill offering. Freewill offerings require voluntary participation by the individual bringing the sacrifice. Voluntary offerings emphasize the importance of freewill commitment. HaShem allowed individuals to bring any type of clean animal for the burnt offering. Therefore, a burnt offering could be from the herd, the flock, or a bird. Because the burnt offering represented an individual's voluntary and total commitment, the priests did not receive their food allotment from the burnt offering. The total consumption of the burnt offering is symbolic of the need for believers to be zealous. As a result, the individual bringing the burnt offering was required to participate in the work of the offering. Vayikra 1:5 states, "he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." The person bringing the offering was to slay the animal in front of HaShem and the priests. The priest's job was to receive the pieces of the offering from the individual who made the offering, and then place it on the altar. This is symbolic of the work and ministry of the Ruach HaKodesh. The Ruach HaKodesh only uses what we offer. In other words, the Ruach HaKodesh presents as an offering to HaShem what we are willing to surrender.
The second type of animal offering described in Vayikra is the mandatory offering. The two types of mandatory offerings are the offerings for sin, and the offerings for other trespasses. The sin offering rectifies unintentional sin. Like the burnt offering, the sin offering is also slain by the person bringing the offering. However, there are two crucial differences between the burnt offering and the sin offering. The first difference is that the flesh and hide of the sin offering are burned outside the camp. Only the internal fat, the liver, and the kidneys are burned on the altar. The second difference is that the species of animal and the sex of the animal are specified. For example, priestly sin and congregational sin require a bull. Vayikra 4:3 says "If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering." HaShem chose a bull for the priests because priestly sin is greater in magnitude than individual sin. Priestly sin brought guilt on the entire congregation. In other words, the sin of the high priest inhibited the congregation's access to HaShem. And then Vayikra 4:13 says "If the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty." HaShem chose a bull for communal sin because; when the common Yisraelite sinned, they defiled their testimony. In other words, when the entire congregation sinned they were no longer a valid witness to the world. The sin of the entire congregation inhibited the ability of Yisrael to be the light to other nations.
The sin offering of a ruler was different as well. Vayikra 4:23 says "if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish:" The ruler who sinned was to bring a male goat. A ruler's sin did not always defile the rest of Yisrael. In fact, if the high priest continued in righteousness and holiness the children of Yisrael still had access to HaShem. Therefore, when a ruler sinned the magnitude of the sin was not as great as the sins that required a bull offering.
When the common Yisraelite sinned, the animal offered was different from the ruler, the priest, or the common Yisraelite. Vayikra 4:27-28 says "if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty. Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned." When ordinary individuals sinned, it was less likely that the sin would spread through the whole camp. As a result, the sin of an individual only required a female goat to atone for sin.
The second mandatory offering mentioned in Vayikra is the trespass offering. The trespass offering rectifies private sins, sins between neighbors, and sins regarding holiness. Besides an animal sacrifice, the trespass offering required confession or repayment. People who were unclean, spoke thoughtlessly, or did not make a secret oath known were guilty of hidden sin. Therefore, he or she was required to confess the transgression. Confession makes the sin public knowledge. As a result, the individual has an avenue of repentance. In other words, when the sin is confessed, the high priest could prescribe the appropriate atonement. Therefore, confession allowed the individual to repent before the sacrifice was offered. In addition, when an individual sinned against holy items, repayment plus 1/5 was required. HaShem required the transgressor to add 1/5 to the value because these sins affect worship. When an individual sinned concerning the holy items, the holy items became unusable in the tabernacle. As a result, the worship of the rest of Yisrael was also affected. Therefore, sin against the holy items prevented others from serving HaShem. In addition, when an individual lied or deceitfully used his neighbor, the transgressor was required to add 1/5 to the value, because sin against a neighbor hurt a believing brother or sister. As a result, transgressions between individual Yisraelites caused physical distress and emotional distress to all Yisrael. The 1/5 penalty the transgressor paid made him or her aware of the fact that hurting another Yisraelite caused repercussions that extended beyond the two parties involved.
The sacrificial system in Yisrael is important for believers today because it exemplifies how believers are supposed to relate to HaShem and to treat one another. Through the burnt offering, HaShem teaches us, individuals are required to offer themselves freely as living sacrifices. Through the sin offering we learn that the greater, an individual's anointing is, the more detrimental, his or her sin becomes to the congregation. From the transgression offering we learn that confession brings to light latent sin. Therefore, in some instances confession is needed to open our way of repentance. The sacrificial system is a guideline that teaches us that serving Yeshua is both a decision and a responsibility.